Friday, August 13, 2010

Pig-Pen Ambassador departs Iraq

The Pig-Pen Ambassador

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Pig-Pen Ambassador" from April 5, 2009 commenting on Chris Hill's confirmation hearing (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th snapshot ). Today Anthony Shadid (New York Times) reports Chris Hill is out of Iraq and "Hours before his departure from Baghdad, he said a power-sharing arrangement between the main winners in the March election was just weeks away." Though Hill makes that assertion, Shadid notes Iraqi officials are not rushing to agree with it. It's a portrait of the manic depressive Hill that comes as close as the press will probably ever come to telling the truth about the uninformed Hill. The Iraqis are the most honest in their assessment. Hill spoke no Arabic and struggled with the basics. He goes on to outline some of James Jeffrey's past work experience (Jeffrey is the new US Ambassador to Iraq) and see how many in 'independent' media bother to comb over that.

Also worth noting is this from the article, "Preparation for the election, the vote and the negotiations on a new government have dominated the tenure of Mr. Hill, who took over the American Embassy at a time when Iraq was less violent and more stable, but only in comparison to the anarchic months of 2006 and 2007." Good for Shadid for not applying the false baseline/benchmark when evaluating the violence. Alsumaria TV reports, "In an interview with a US TV station, Hill explained that the political situation in Iraq is normal and doesn’t differ from any other country where the difference is slight between two winning parties." Hill has a tendency to repeat himself (heavily scripted) in one interview after another; however, they may be referring to the interview Steve Inskeep did with him for NPR's Morning Edition earlier this week.

On the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk, Voice of Russia observes:

While pulling out from Iraq, America will leave behind 50 thousand military specialists, whose major duty will be to help Iraq maintain law and order. The number is large enough to sustain a US base in Iraq, meaning that it is incorrect to talk about a complete pullout of US soldiers from Iraq, [Vyacheslv] Matuzov says. The US is exploiting the fears by Iraqis about a possible breakup of the country if America were to leave them to their own devices. The US is using the fears of Iraqi political elite to prolong its military presence in Baghdad, said Matuzov.
But the presence of America cannot prevent Iraq from splitting into small parts. The occupation has almost destroyed the country as a homogenous state. Apart from creating a conflict on inter-ethnic and sectarian grounds, the occupation has made the life of the population a hell on earth. Iraqis have paid an extremely high price for the forced presence of Americans in their country, Abbas Kunfud of the Center for strategic studies has said. Thousands of people have perished and 4 million others have become refugees.

I'm not a Justin Rainmondo groupie and, just last Friday, we were calling him out for his refusal to apply the same standards to Barack Obama -- War Hawk In Chief -- that he was applying to Hillary Clinton. We're doing an excerpt of his "Folly, Left and Right" and you really need to read it in full at to understand what he's talking about:

There are no citations to back up the charge of "red-baiting," unless by that term one means accurately identifying the politics of some of the conference participants, including Gauvreau and her comrades. Is it not true that Socialist Action is a Trotskyist organization? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I, who have worked with countless lefties in my career, am honestly baffled by the "red-bating" charge. It’s nonsense, but there’s so much nonsense stuffed into the above-cited paragraph that it really bespeaks an extraordinary talent for obfuscation.

Nowhere in my piece did I express "scorn" either for working people or the Albany conference: but then again, members of her particular sectarian grouplet are prone to substituting themselves and their tiny band of followers for the entire working class and antiwar movements. Gauvreau also claims that I wrote the conference attendees were "dupes of Socialist Action," but I never expressed any such opinion. Although I’m sure the intrepid Socialist Actioneers tried to pack the meeting with as many of their "cadre" as possible, the mere fact that there was a debate over the question of a left-right alliance against the war – due to the insistence of Kevin Zeese, head of Voters for Peace – and some pretty articulate arguments made by both Zeese and Medea Benjamin on behalf of the left-right strategy, proves that the conference was more than just Socialist Action’s Potemkin village. That this debate happened at all is encouraging evidence that the stranglehold of the ultra-left sectarians on the antiwar movement is in the process of being broken. The issue of war and peace is simply too important to be left in such irresponsible and self-serving hands.

Again, I'm no Justin Raimondo groupie. If I think he's wrong on something, I have no problem saying so. If I think he's right on something, I have no problem saying so. He's not a red-baiter and anyone making that assertion either doesn't know what the term means or is intentionally lying. Noting someone is a Socialist or a Communist is not "red-baiting." A large number of people are hiding in political closets and want to hiss "red-baiting." If a Republican were to pose as a Democrat, they'd be the first to holler. Socialists and Communists exist in America, they are part of the American experience, they make contributions to the country like any one else. Justin Raimondo comes from a different political perspective, so he will disagree with them, but disagreements is not "red-baiting." I find that charge against him not only false but offensive. And since we did just criticize him last week, I feel I need to be very clear that we do not support the "red-baiting" charge against him.

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Dan Balz (Washington Post), Todd Purdum (Vanity Fair) and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Leaning Left and Right: Why Labels Won't Help This Year." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with US House Rep Donna Edwards, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Darlene Kennedy and Sabrina Schaeffer on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is an interview with Nancy Pelosi. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast (Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings) features a look at youth violence in Chicago. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Swiss bank accounts offered people, including American tax cheats, a safe place to hide money. But Switzerland's largest bank has given authorities formerly sacrosanct information on its American customers because of tips provided by whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, who tells Steve Kroft some of the secrets Swiss bankers never tell. | Watch Video

130 Million Tons of Waste
If coal ash is safe to spread under a golf course or be used in carpets, why are the residents of Kingston, Tenn., being told to stay out of a river where the material was spilled? Lesley Stahl reports. | Watch Video

Al Pacino
In a rare sit-down interview, Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino talks to Katie Couric about his films and how he prepares for them, including his latest movie in which he starred as Dr. Jack Kevorkian. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, August 15, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio notes. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR and streams online live starting at 10:00 a.m. EST) the first hour (domestic) finds Diane joined by Jackie Calmes (New York Times), Ron Elving (NPR) and John King (CNN). The second hour (international) Daniel Dombey (Financial Times), Yochi Dreazen (National Journal) and Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy).

Three former U.S. soldiers involved in the infamous “Collateral Murder” helicopter gunship attack on Baghdad civilians in July 2007, say that attack was nothing out of the ordinary. The massacre---that killed more than a dozen Iraqis, two of them employed by Reuters News Service---ignited a wave of international revulsion against the U.S. military when a video of the massacre was released by WikiLeaks last April.
“What the world did not see is the months of training that led up to the incident, in which soldiers were taught to respond to threats with a barrage of fire---a “wall of steel,” in Army parlance---even if it put civilians at risk,” report Sarah Lazare and Ryan Harvey in the August 16th issue of The Nation magazine.
Former Army Specialist Josh Stieber said that newly arrived soldiers in Baghdad were asked if they would fire back at an attacker if they knew unarmed civilians might get hurt in the process. Those who did not respond affirmatively, or who hesitated, were “knocked around” until they realized what was expected of them, added former Army Specialist Ray Corcoles, who deployed with Stieber.
A third former Army specialist, Ethan McCord, said his battalion commander gave orders to shoot indiscriminately after attacks by improvised explosive devices. “Anytime someone in your line gets hit by an IED…you kill every motherfucker in the street,” McCord quotes him as saying.
Corcoles told the reporters he purposely turned his gun away from people. “You don’t even know if somebody’s shooting at you. It’s just insanity to just start shooting people.”

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